Monday, June 1, 2020

Menu plan Monday

We've been a bit scattered with our menu the last few days, so I'm trying to correct that. Here's what we're having (have been having)

  • Friday - I made naan pizza with pesto parsley, made M cauliflower crust pizza, and Nick made the kids pasta
  • Saturday - our plans fell apart, so we did takeout Greek food. The restaurant has been very consistently good for 5+ years, but the food was very disappointing this time. I'm wondering if they have a new chef, have adjusted recipes based on availability, etc. It was pricey before, so not worth the price. 
  • Sunday - tacos (and, salmon for M)
  • Monday - I'm planning on some sort of a mahi mahi recipe. I'm thinking of this one
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - lubia polo (freezer)
  • Thursday - pasta & meatballs
  • Friday - TBD
That's it for us. What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May goals recap, how did I do?

It's the end of another month of staying at home, so let's look back & see how that's impacting my goals.

Despite everything happening right now, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm focused on the things I can control and influence, I'm on a low news diet (for my own mental health & well being) & setting achievable goals.

I like to see progress, so each month, I intentionally set goals that allow me to measure progress in the categories that are most important. Here's how I did in May.

1) Financial

  • Stick to the budget, & rebuild plan for taxes due - done. We were over in groceries, and under elsewhere. 
  • Pay down our mortgage to our next milestone. - Way over delivered!
  • No clothing purchases for me. - Bought a new sports bra. I've been working out a lot, and my old ones are finally stretching out the point of being unusable. Some are 10+ years old, so they've lasted, but eventually have to be replaced.
  • Make $200 in side hustle. - I made $466 on 24 eBay/local neighborhood swap sales! I've been listing at least one item every day, and it's paid off. I've had a few snafus with shipping charges, but generally, this has been a very positive thing for me. I love the cycle of decluttering, earning money, and typically use the drop off at the postal box for exercise. So, it's a triple win. 
  • Keep working through freezer/pantry clean out. 10 items out of pantry/freezer
    • Mini naan bread - almost gone
    • Mozzarella sticks - used
    • Heavy cream - froze remainder
    • Pine nuts - used some for parsley pesto
    • Tahini - no progress
    • Lipton onion soup mix - no progress
2) Family
  • Find time to take the boys to socially distanced activities - so much tennis! They've played a lot, and I've played with them twice
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening (not counting reading) - I've been reading a ton. But, it's tempting to check other tabs. I really, really need to continue to focus on not reading the news at night.
  • Have a weekly half our alone with M. - Going well, mostly walking or sitting outside talking.
  • Schedule monthly calls with M's family - we've been sharing videos, due to time zones.
  • Two hours of practicing Farsi or Spanish - lots of Duolingo Spanish practice! Unfortunately, Duolingo doesn't offer Farsi.
  • Make revised summer plans - eh, where we can. A lot of places (summer camps) still haven't announced plans, so we haven't been able to finalize anything beyond June.

3) Fitness/health

  • Lose 3 lbs - lost .8 of a lb. However, I tried on all of my jeans yesterday, and all of them fit! I had a few more "aspirational" jeans, and even those fit. A couple pair were still snug, but even being able to wear them shows some progress.
  • Work out every day in May - yes! 
  • Track calories. Aim for 1400 calories/day - 1621. Which is, interesting, exactly my calories in April. Exactly! 
  • Complete 1200 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts - I picked up the running quite a bit, and didn't balance as well as I should have. Crushed the cardio goal with 1,870 minutes (may be a personal record), but only had 2 strength & 4 stretching workouts. 
  • Meditate 20 times - I only meditated 9 times. I can tell the difference, and with the state of the world, the current US situation, and my own stress level, I need to get back to this.
  • Run 10 times - I ran 16 times! I'm so happy I was able to get back to a consistent running schedule
4) Personal
  • Stay connected with friends - we did a weekly happy hour, and I also did a (virtual) lunch with a friend
  • Volunteer - I volunteered for a study at work
  • Journal 25 times - I journaled every day in May, so 31 times
  • Adapt a more positive mindset - I'm doing okay, but ... these are some challenging times. I'm focused on things I can control & reducing media consumption.
  • Listen more often vs talking - working on this
  • Reduce swearing - eh, hit or miss
  • Read one non-fiction book - nope. I ready a TON this month (25+ books), but no non-fiction
  • Compliment M every day - yes
  • Support the kids with online learning - yes, and we are caught up with all missing assignments. Two days left in the grading period!
  • One project/day (taking advantage of the WFH situation) - yes, I've done this. Everything from re-organizing areas of the house, to yard work, to cleaning crystal. I push myself to use the time at home. 

I've been more productive during this time than during my sabbatical. In some ways, that makes sense, as there was lots of traveling during my sabbatical. I've been able to build up a very consistent routine lately, because there are no competing demands on my time. I've also realized that a more relaxed schedule (not to the point we're at now, but somewhere between now and our previous life) is really useful for everyone. We'll have to figure out how to keep some of that, after life returns to the new normal.

What about you? How did you do with your goals in May?

Friday, May 29, 2020

Frugal Friday

It's another week of sheltering in place! Here's what we've been up to.

Saving on things we buy
  • Used a discount code to pick up mojito supplies (shop pick up service, where they drop off in your trunk). The supplies weren't cheap, but significantly less than what we would have paid for a few mojitos in a restaurant. We'll also use fresh mint from our garden. 
  • Used $4 grocery store reward to apply towards hot dog buns & ice cream for the long weekend
  • Found out that my husband & I will each get reimbursed for office furniture, as we will be WFH for the indefinite future. We'd previously bought adjustable desks & other items, and will now get our money back! This is a huge win. 
  • I also saved around $2,000 by doing a significant amount of yard work on my own. We will have a gardener handle other tasks, but we cut the bill down by quite a bit by my earlier efforts. 

Earning money
  • Sold a big ticket item (crystal pitcher, $100) on eBay & spent a lot of time & materials around the house to get it packaged safely. Arranged for free package pickup via USPS
  • Sold another good sized item (slate cheese tray, $65) & repurposed a box that had just arrived (we had to buy our son a laptop for school work, which was...not frugal). 
  • Continued listing & selling (smaller) items on eBay
  • Earned a $5 reward on Bing

Avoiding spending
  • We've had issues with our car registration (we paid, and got a smog test) & there was a glitch that kept telling us our smog certification was expired. Because the DMV was closed, I was very tempted to get another smog check. But, instead, waited for an hour in the chat queue, spoke to an agent & got it resolved. Saved $55 & avoided the cost of getting a ticket, even though technically we are paid up on our car tags. 
  • Planned to do a pickup lunch to kick off the long weekend, but forgot that M had the car, and our other car didn't have tags (above). Avoided takeout lunch. ;-) 
  • We've had to run our A/C for brief spurts (an hour here & there) to keep the house cool, as it's now our office & school & the weather has been close to 100 here. However, I am line drying all of our clothes, taking advantage of that warm weather! We do this year round (not with towels, socks or underwear, but everything else) & it's great to avoid heating up the house & to save money. 

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Back at it Tuesday

The long weekend went incredibly quickly, but good times were had by all. Save for the kids, who did need to squeeze in assignments around tennis & pool time. Only 10 days left of school. Let the count down begin! I've definitely never been as excited about school ending. This year has brought with it many challenges, and while I think we'll get over the finish line, there was a huge learning curve for everyone with online learning & a lot fell through the cracks.

I went for an early run this morning, as it's supposed to be close to 100 today. We also turned on our air conditioner for a couple of hours yesterday - the first time this year. We got in the pool, floated on rafts, and tried to chill out.

I have a handful of meetings today, and for my chore of the day, I went through & inventoried all of our gift cards & travel credits. Because of one preferred restaurant going bankrupt, and all of our cancelled travel plans, I wanted to get on top of everything. I now feel much more organized. This situation has definitely taught me that my risk for hanging on to gift cards I don't have an immediate plan to use is . . . not great. I also have gift cards for other places (a barre studio, the kids climbing gym that was a gift) that may also not survive COVID. A good lesson that, in these unpredictable times, gift cards are a riskier bet than previously thought. We will try to use up as many as we can in the upcoming months, and then stop buying them unless we have an immediate use.

I haven't decided what I'm going to list on eBay, so I'd better go off & get productive.

And, menu plan for the week:

Saturday - grilled burgers & corn
Sunday - grilled chicken on Caesar salad + sauteed green beans
Monday - grilled hot dogs & beans
Tuesday - leftover burgers & corn
Wednesday - leftover chicken, maybe as tacos, with beans
Thursday - leftover hot dogs + something from our produce box
Friday - any remaining leftovers

What about you? How are you doing today? Have you had any negative experience with gift cards, as a result of COVID?

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Long weekend Saturday

It's gorgeous here today, which makes for a great long weekend. I got up & went for a run, but wish I was up earlier, as it was already hot. My pace was about a minute off my normal, so I clearly need to start adjusting to the warmer temperature.

Last night I tried a new recipe, and thought it was easy & kid friendly - Easy Taco Bake. I made it exactly as described, but did sub out the sour cream & used Greek yogurt, as it's what I had on hand. Turned out great.

I made a few eBay sales, and got those packaged & ready to go. I'm working on some old crystal that I've never used, getting that cleaned & listed. The kids are playing tennis & M is getting supplies to build shelves in a few of our closets. Hurrah.

And, a little bit of progress in the garden! Tomatoes & peppers, starting to come out.

That's it for me. I'm off to get things done. Hope everyone is having a fabulous Saturday.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Yard work progress

I wish I'd thought to take photos of all of the yard projects I have going, but I did take a few before/afters. I'm not quite done with this area, but it's already starting to look so much better. This is probably the smallest area I'm working in.



Don't mind the irrigation system - need to get that cleaned up as well. Strawberries have made their way into this area, and we're hoping that by removing all of the overgrown plants, we can get a nice strawberry patch going, next to the tall rose bush. There are some sort of wild lily, and the fruit tree of unknown origin that produces a very small amount of citrus fruit. Some sort of lemon/grapefruit hybrid, I think.

Here's a picture of the small ivy removal project I'm working on (the other side is about 10x this size), unfortunately.



And, not the best picture of the big ivy project, as I took this while I was trimming the enormous tree, but you can see the ivy in the background:

This is definitely how I'm staying busy during the quarantine! What about you? Do you have any big projects (yard related, or not) that you are trying to accomplish?

Frugal Friday

Another frugal week has gone by. Nothing too exciting to report. We continue to make meals at home, eat lots of leftovers, reduce food waste, and look for ways to cut costs.

Saving on things we buy

  • Made my own coleslaw mix for a recipe, using cabbage & carrots. About 1/3 less than buying it pre-made.
  • M also made his own nut mix, by purchasing the items separately & mixing them at home, saving a few bucks. 

Earning money

  • I found $.01 on the ground, while on a walk. Big money!
  • I've continued to sell things on eBay
  • I continued my one chore a day, and cleaned out the shoe bins & sports equipment area in the garage. I put some shoes aside to resell (almost never used soccer cleats that are now outgrown, same with hiking boots, etc) & found a full set convertible skateboard/scooter. Got it cleaned up, posted on our neighborhood swap site & sold it for $30 a few hours later. No contact porch pickup, and they paid me through Venmo. Super easy. I wish all sales could be like that.
  • I also found old collapsible goals, and sold those for $25.  

Avoiding spending

  • We avoided takeout this week, and managed to make a lot of meals at home. Our grocery bill continues to be very high, but is always cheaper than takeout. 
  • I had another "virtual happy hour", which means a glass of wine at home, which is much cheaper than an in person happy hour
  • I'm also getting a $40 refund for my son's graduation (he is graduating from 8th grade) as the celebration is cancelled
  • M also invested in clippers, so he can cut the boys hair. It's unclear whether this will save us money. If he cuts their hair a few times during the quarantine, we will be even. So, it looks promising. 
  • I also used a jalapeno left in the back of the fridge drawer, vs buying a can of chiles for a recipe.
What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Working out, lately

I've worked out every day since February 25th, and am on quite a roll with consistency. What's contributing to this? Well, no international travel for work, no vacations, no commute to the office, no taking kids to sports, games, practices, etc.

Working out is also a critical component of my mental health right now, as I juggle the kids at home, my own work situation, and our "new life", that none of us were expecting.

I've been running more lately, and am almost to the point where I'm enjoying it again. Almost. :-) I keep thinking I'm making no progress on time or distance, but looking back over my runs since the beginning of the year, I most definitely am. Isn't it interesting how our minds try to tell us one story, but the data tells another? We can be our harshest critic, so I find tracking my workouts & calories to be really helpful - both to keep me in check when I'm telling a different story (oh, you're keeping your calories totally in check. Not so much with some extra snacking during the day), as well as to show me real progress when it happens.

So far, 1/3 of my yearly runs have happened in May. That means I wasn't running much the first part of the year, and I"m getting much more consistent in May. The data indicates both are true.

My current workout schedule/plan for each week is as follows:

  • 3-4 runs
  • 1 strength workout
  • 1 yoga/stretching workout
  • 1 hike/walk day
I am also going for a bonus walk most days (with the kids, M & the neighbor's dog) & doing quite a bit of yard work. It's a stretch to stick to my 12k step goal when I'm at home, but I'm hitting it almost every day, with some dedicated effort.

As for the weight loss, I made progress in March/April, but have slowed down a bit recently. I need to shave 150-200 calories/day off of my totals. It's doable, but less fun than I'm currently enjoying. :-)

I am working hard to appreciate one of the advantages of the "new normal", which means having the time to consistently work out. It's really helpful, and I know it's benefiting my physical & mental health tremendously. 

What about you? How are you doing with your well being during this time? Are you adapting your workouts or finding new time to squeeze in walks? 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Drizzly Sunday

It was beautiful outside yesterday, so I took advantage by going for a run in the morning, and getting more yard work done. Lots of raking, trimming, & tearing down of ivy. The kids helped out for a bit as well, which makes the loading & clean up much easier.

I also made egg roll in a bowl (so easy, & flavorful), went for a run, made a double batch of muffins, juiced a bag of lemons, and cut a pineapple for smoothies. And cleaned the house, although the kitchen needs another pass, after all of that kitchen prep work.

What's on the agenda for today?
  1. Go for a quick run. It's raining, so I'm not particularly jazzed
  2. Package & mail a couple of eBay sales
  3. List a new item on eBay
  4. Figure out my bonus chore of the day
  5. Clean the kitchen (again)
  6. Have the boys call my parents
  7. Make chicken fiesta skillet for dinner
  8. Work on our packing list for the beach house
  9. Read my book 
  10. Talk to M about adding shelving to a few closets
That's it for me. What is everyone up to today?

Friday, May 15, 2020

Frugal Friday

Another week of shelter in place. Here's how things played out for us, in the frugal world.

Saving on things we buy

  • Who knows what things will look like in February, but I went ahead & bought tickets to Whistler for ski break next year. The tickets were 1/2 the normal price, and if you bought between now & the end of May, you can change or cancel with no penalty. 
  • We also received a 20% credit from our season's ski passes this year. It is not for cash back, and can only be applied towards another ski pass. We weren't planning on buying it, but they have added COVID insurance, in the event the resorts need to close again next year. I'll run the math, but we skied 7 days last year, and it was quite a bit cheaper with season passes. Nick is unfortunately in the older bracket now, which is a hike from last year. With season passes, you also get hotel discounts, and I was able to buy tickets for my nephew at Whistler for a discount. 
  • I used a $20 UberEats promo code + Uber rewards to buy dinner on Saturday, with no money out of pocket. 

Earning money

  • Continued to list & sell items on eBay. The earnings are small, but it's fun to continually get things out of the house. And, I have to walk to the mailbox to drop off the packages, so that's over a mile round trip whenever I have a sale. Win/win/win!
  • Received a $22 payout on Rakuten, for purchases made earlier in the year. 

Avoiding spending

  • Knowing that we wouldn't be able to go to Hawaii as planned in June, I've waited to cancel our flights. If the airline cancels, you get your money back. If you cancel, you get credit. I was very pleasantly surprised this week when the airline cancelled our flight, & I've now requested our money back. I've already cancelled the hotel & will receive a full refund.
  • Because we aren't going to Hawaii, we will drive everyone to Oregon vs flying. Those flights weren't cancelled by the airline, but I cancelled on our side, and received credit for a future trip. 
  • The family relay we participate in was cancelled. They are forwarding our registration to the following year (no money back), but I was able to cancel Nick's flight & get credit. Assuming we can be together in small groups by August, I'll still plan to fly to Portland, and we'll do a trail relay run with my family. 
  • We had one take out lunch & one takeout dinner last week (a splurge for sure), but otherwise, all meals made at home. 

Frugal fail:
And, offsetting nearly all of my frugal wins, the restaurant the boys & M loved to eat at while I traveled (a salad bar) went out of business due to Coronavirus. I'd purchased gift cards at a discount, which are now worthless. I haven't had the heart to go & add up how much we're sitting on, in useless gift cards. It made me nervous enough that I treated the kids to lunch at Panera (using a gift card) as now I'm worried about any other businesses that might go under, while we have gift cards.

How about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

It's Thursday

I've been trying to get consistent about running three times/week. I'm at the point where it's still not fun, and feels like a slog, but if memory serves, that gets better over time. Fingers crossed. I went for a run this morning, and am hopeful that will give me an extra hit of energy today. Some days I get that runners high, other days, not so much.

Our Hawaii trip is officially cancelled (no surprise), as the airline cancelled our flight, and it's very likely that Hawaii will extend the mandatory quarantine for all visitors. Because of this, we will pivot & instead drive up to Oregon & spend time at our vacation house. It's not Hawaii, but we feel lucky to have this option. And, it will be so much cheaper!

As for the rest of today, I've packaged an item for sale on eBay, and need to schedule a package pickup. I have a few meetings this afternoon, and then a virtual happy hour with friends. It's a weekly thing, and I always look so forward to the social connection.

And with that, I'm off to m next task. What about you? What are you up to today? 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all of you moms have a wonderful day. I'm planning on rallying myself for a run shortly. I'll keep the to do list reasonably short today, and want to wash the sheets & mail an item I sold on eBay. I'll list another item, and hopefully make some progress in the yard. The kids have promised help in the yard as part of their Mother's Day gift. ;-)

We ordered takeout last night, and M & I sat on the patio & drank a margarita. It was really lovely. Earlier in the day, a friend dropped off a bag of supplies from Trader Joes, for the boys to make me a Mother's Day brunch. It was so unexpected & thoughtful! There is a yummy looking cinnamon bread, maple syrup,  eggs, sausage, & juice. Hopefully they can whip that up when I'm back from my run.

I went on a long hike yesterday, so was too sore for much real yard work. Fitbit said I had 26k steps, which explains my lethargy later in the day.

One of my top requests on Mother's Day is always cupcakes, but my favorite bakery is closed. Nick tried his hand at lemon cupcakes stuffed with a raspberry filling. The cupcake & the filling turned out fabulously, but he had some issues with the frosting. In the end, he skipped the frosting & lightly dusted them with powdered sugar. We dropped off cupcakes for our two elderly neighbors, as well as for my friend with the Mother's Day breakfast surprise, and one other friend who sends us treats. It was so nice to surprise the moms with cupcakes.

I spent part of yesterday dreaming about future planning. I don't know if any of you are like this, but I do want to think about a future that involves fun family trips again. I don't know realistically how far out those trips will be, but it makes the situation feel less hopeless when I imagine them again. Currently, we're looking at two trips: February 2021 (ski week) at Whistler, and April 2021 (spring break) in Hawaii. Airlines are offering full credit back with no fees, if you book between now & the end of May. We will likely book both, as I already have credit on the airlines for previously cancelled trips, so it's no money out of pocket. And, I get to dream a bit about future travel.

Finally, on to the menu plan:

Friday - we had tacos/taco salads
Saturday - we ordered delivery Greek food
Sunday - M is making my favorite - Persian kebabs & rice
Monday - chicken alfredo (freezer) w/pasta or cauliflower rice
Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
Wednesday - carnitas (freezer)
Thursday - any remaining leftovers
Friday - cauliflower pizza (adults), regular pizza (kids)

How about you? Are you dreaming of any future travel plans? What are you up to on Mother's Day, and what's on the menu this week?

Friday, May 8, 2020

Frugal Friday

Another frugal week, with our state/county still adhering to shelter in place.

Saving on things we buy

  • Can't think of anything in this category.  We've just been buying groceries, and nothing is really on sale these days

Earning money

  • Continued listing items on eBay, and making small sales. Sold a couple of items I've had listed for months, which always feels great. 
  • Found $.01 on the ground

Avoiding spending:

  • Picked up lemons out of a neighbor's "free" box, and juiced them. I've been enjoying lemon in my water each day. 
  • Mailing eBay sales out of repurposed packages & bags from prior purchases we've made
  • I've been doing a huge amount of yard work. We will likely consider hiring a monthly yard service (once allowed again), as it's something we discussed when I got my last raise. However, we don't want to pay for some of the bigger projects that exist, and would prefer to handle those on our own prior to starting the service. 
  • Making meals at home, reducing waste, menu planning to ensure we're using what we have on hand. 

What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It's all about the ivy

It's a lovely day today, and I've finished most of my meetings, so a quick update. 

I went for a run this morning (3 miles, a little faster than I was on the previous 3 mile run) & had excess energy after that. I don't always get a "runners high" after running, but I find that, particularly when I run in the morning, I have more energy throughout the day. Win/win. 

I've been working on removing two large ivy infestations on our house. Ivy, for those of you who have had it on your property, is terribly hard to get rid of. In our area, it also leads to rats, as they love to nest under the ivy. Neither of those are good things, and the longer you leave it, the deeper & faster it spreads. We haven't had yard service at our house in three years (the previous owners did have it), and the ivy has run rampant. 

I've been ever so slowly pulling out pieces bit by bit, and working on it, but is it ever an exhausting project. I did more ivy pulling at lunch yesterday & today, and after work was complete. The good news is, it's a combo workout + yard activity, for sure! I have blisters all over my hands (in spite of wearing gloves) from pulling out thousands of ivy roots. 

In other news, yesterday they opened up the tennis courts (you can only play with family members), so the boys are thrilled to have another activity. There's a city court about 1/2 mile from our house, so the boys spent lunch today getting in a game. It's so wonderful to see them get a chance to get out & get some exercise. It also gives the parents a tiny break. ;-) 

Tonight we'll have leftover lubia polo (a Persian bean, ground beef & rice dish) & I need to use up a tiny bit of ground beef that M forgot to include in the lubia polo. I'll probably make him a burger, as he doesn't eat many carbs. After dinner, we'll walk the neighbor's dog & hopefully squeeze in a few games of rummy.

What about you? What are you up to today? And, have you ever dealt with my nemesis - ivy?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Happy Sunday

I made a double batch of banana oatmeal muffins this morning, using up some overly ripe bananas. They turned out very well.

I just finished up a 3.5 mile run, and I had no energy. I felt like I ran 7 miles. All I can say is that it's done. I blame all of the yard work I did yesterday. Pulling up ivy takes it out of you, and I had no gas in the tank this morning for a run. C'est la vie. No rest for the wicked.

Here's the plan for the rest of the day:

  • Vacuum
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • The kitchen is a disaster, so clean that
  • Laundry
  • List an item on eBay
  • Have the boys call my parents
  • Work on the ivy again
  • Evening walk
  • M is making grilled chicken, sauteed green beans & some sort of potato for dinner. Yum.
  • Read by the pool & chill
And, taken from my daily list, today I'm grateful for:
  • New recipes to try
  • Making progress with the ivy in our yard 
  • Having enough energy to work out. With lupus, this is something I try to never take for granted

What about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Goals for May

My goals this month are pretty much the same as last month. Both because last month's goals worked well for me, and also because we're still sheltering in place, so options are different than a normal month.

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:

1) Financial

  • Stick to the budget & keep saving for the taxes due on 7/15
  • Pay down our mortgage to new mini milestone
  • No clothing/shoes/jewelry purchases
  • Make $200 in side hustle
  • Use 10 random items from freezer/pantry
2) Family
  • As the parks open up, find time to take the boys to socially distanced activities
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening (not counting reading)
  • Have a weekly half hour alone with M
  • One call with M's family
  • Practice Farsi & Spanish
  • Make revised summer plans
3) Fitness/health
  • Lose 3 lbs
  • Work out every day
  • Track calories (goal of 1400 average/day), & eat 5 servings of fruit & veggies
  • Complete 1200 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts
  • Meditate 20 times
4) Personal/creative
  • Stay connected with friends, at least 2x/month
  • Volunteer
  • Journal every day
  • Adapt a more positive mind set
  • Listen more often vs talking
  • Reduce swearing
  • Read one non-fiction book
  • Compliment M every day
  • Support the kids with online learning
  • One project/day (taking advantage of WFH situation)

What about you? What are your goals for May? How is the quarantine impacting your goals?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Frugal Friday

We've made it to another Friday of "shelter in place". It sounds like more exercise areas will open up next week (not gyms, but outdoor options that allow for social distancing), which will be a great option for the kids. Here's what we've been up to over the past week.

Saving on things we buy

  • The shelter at home order has been extended until June for us, so I put one of our cars in "storage" via our car insurance. 
  • Took advantage of flexible travel policies & rebooked & saved about $150 on our flights to Portland for the holidays. 
  • Totally unclear if we will be participating in our family relay this summer, but I cancelled & rebooked our flights on another airline, saving $300
  • I decided to treat the kids to Panera yesterday, as they were having both a family meal as well as a $10 off deal. I combined that with gift cards to pay just over $1 for lunch for everyone, plus enough leftover for another lunch. We ordered online via the app, & they came out to the car (with masks, and we had masks). It was really convenient.

Earning money
  • Continued to list items on eBay, and small sales are trickling in
  • Sold an old lawnmower on a neighborhood site. The timing was good, as most people don't have yard service right now, and are more motivated to mow their own yards

Avoiding spending
  • I found a super old postage stamp (for $3.50?) in a drawer when decluttering, and used it to mail masks to my sister.
  • I also found a stamped envelope, already addressed to my parents (also discovered when cleaning) & used it to mail the letters we wrote to my mom for Mother's Day
  • Cancelled flights to/from LA, where I was planning to pick up the boys from my parents after a trip to Disneyland. That's been cancelled, so no need for a flight. I got credit back on Southwest Airlines. 

Not really under any of those categories, but more about our neighborhood sharing

  • Brought Kleenex for a friend (she couldn't find them) & she gave me apples from her farm delivery
  • Made potato salad & saved a few portions for our neighbor across the street. She is always doing kind things for us, as we walk her dog daily. She dropped off a quiche from a neighborhood bakery that she'd purchased for us.
  • Made orange muffins using a few of our many oranges from our neighbor's tree. Dropped off some for her to enjoy as well
  • One of our neighbors had a huge bin of lemons outside on their driveway, with bags for taking home. I juiced them for salad dressing & to add to my water every day. I'm loving the addition of lemon to make my water feel a little bit more like a drink.
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Goals Recap

It was a full month of WFH/quarantine/remote learning. I've continued to focus on the positives, while giving myself some forgiveness on the things that are harder right now.

Here's how I did this month:

1) Financial

  • Stick to the budget & rebuild plan for taxes due - yes, plan is in motion & we are in good shape for the revised 7/15 date. 
  • Pay down our mortgage to the next micro level - yes, done! And, over delivered. I put all of my eBay sales towards the mortgage, which always helps. 
  • No clothing, shoes & jewelry purchases - I bought a pair of jeans for a friend (they were $10, as I had points & rewards), but nothing for me. 
  • Make $100 in side hustle - I made just over $250! Lots & lots of small sales. I'm listing one item a day, as I've heard that helps promote all of your listings in the algorithm. Not sure if it's that, or something else, but slow & steady. 
  • Keep working through freezer/pantry clean out - we've done a good job of managing food waste & rotating through things. I may come up with a "hit list" of items for May. 
2) Family
  • Plan a family dinner night, & a couple of fun spring break activities - we've had family dinner every night, and busted out the old XBox during spring break. The pool is also finally warm enough, but we didn't quite get warm enough weather over spring break. We've also done nightly walks as a family.
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening (not counting reading) - Most days, yes. I had a few crazy nights (and, it interrupts my sleep for sure), but otherwise just reading after that. 
  • Have a weekly half hour alone with M - we are doing pretty well on this. 
  • Schedule monthly calls with M's family - we had a call, and I've been recording WhatsApp videos, to help us get past some of the time zone challenges. 
  • Two hours of practice with Farsi flashcards - I've been practicing Spanish every day, but not Farsi
3) Fitness/health
  • Lose 3 lbs - I lost 1.5 lbs. My calories were higher, but I'm still pleased with the progress during a quarantine
  • Work out every day in April - yes!
  • Track calories, eat five servings of fruit & vegetables. Aim for 1400 calories/day - I crushed the fruit & vegetable goal, but my average calories were high at 1623. Luckily, I was active this month. 
  • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts - 1330 minutes of cardio! 10 strength workouts, & 4 stretching workouts. 
  • Meditate 20 times - close, with 18 meditations
4) Personal/creative
  • Stay connected with friends. Do something social 2x/month- yes, we've been doing virtual happy hours
  • Volunteer - I've been helping out some neighbors
  • Journal 25 times - Yes! I journaled every day in April
  • Adapt a more positive mindset (judge less) - I'm doing okay at this
  • Listen more often vs talking & work on not interrupting - also doing okay
  • Reduce swearing - eh, it's been hit or miss during the quarantine
  • Read one non-fiction book - I'm 2/3 of the way done with Becoming by Michelle Obama. A great read so far. 
  • Compliment M every day - Mostly
  • Support the kids with online learning - Well, we are all surviving as best we can!
  • Complete one project/day (taking advantage of WFH situation) - Yes! I've done so much cleaning & decluttering, organizing, weeding, getting our patio area cleaned up. It's been great. 

All in all, I'm feeling really good about how April went. How about you? How did you do with your April goals? 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A few things

It was a day of random tasks today, but I did manage to get a few things done:

  • A few walks
  • A few chores (sweeping + cleaning & setting out our last two patio chairs)
  • A 30 minute HIIT workout
  • Plenty of work
  • Meditation
  • Listed an item on eBay
  • Journaled
I'm looking forward to tomorrow & Friday, where I have significantly fewer meetings. I try to journal every day these days, and come up with three things I'm grateful for. I'll try to remember to share them here as well, as we can all use more positive news:

Today I'm grateful for:
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice to add to my water
  • Baked oatmeal, for a quick & easy breakfast
  • Nice walking weather
  • Time to play rummy with my husband (during what used to be our commute time)
That's it for me. What about you? What are you grateful for these days? Are you ready for May?! I can't believe April is almost over.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Menu Plan Sunday

I went for a virtual run with friends this morning, and it was toasty! I came home & made pico de gallo & guacamole, although i don't think the guacamole will be as good as normal - the avocado was barely ripe enough to mash. I ended up giving it a light chop instead. In pre-quarantine days, I definitely would have gone to the produce stand for more ripe avocado, but in our current world, we will just make do! I also made 3.5 lbs of taco meat. We will eat some for dinner this week, and the rest will go into the freezer.

I also built our menu plan for the week:
  • Friday - it was a leftovers smorgasbord, with the kids having chicken & the adults having salmon
  • Saturday - burgers, potato salad & homemade potato chips (we have a LOT of potatoes to get through)
  • Sunday - tacos with pico de gallo & guacamole
  • Monday - leftover burgers & potato salad
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - likely carnitas, with any remaining pico de gallo. I'll hopefully have enough avocados for a second batch of guacamole
  • Thursday - anything leftover in the fridge
  • Friday - TBD
And, sold our lawn mower. I'm currently taking a break, enjoying the sunshine by the pool.

For the rest of the day, who knows if I get anything done, but I will likely get our patio cushions added to our outdoor dining table. And then maybe just some lounging & reading.

Hope you are having a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Busy in the kitchen on a sunny day

I went on a hike this morning, and traded a friend Kleenex that she needed for apples from her farm delivery. The apples are amazing!

I also went to the grocery store to pick up a few items Costco doesn't carry. Pretty much anything is cheaper at our local produce stand, but it's very difficult to practice social distancing. So, we've been shopping at the grocery store near our house instead. M went to Costco, and unloading & sanitizing everything (not to mention finding space in the fridge/freezer) is an adventure. We have more food  than usual, so it's a bit of a juggle when the new supplies come it. We are grateful to have access to high quality food right now.

I cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed & then started prepping some food. I made potato salad (for the first time!) & it was fabulous. The recipe I tried was super tasty, but the peeling of the potatoes & time involved means this will be a rare treat in our house. I sent Nick over to drop off a few servings for our neighbor across the way, and she'd picked up quiches from our local bakery, and gave us one. She's so lovely.

I also made orange muffins (some for us, some for our neighbor who gave us oranges), which turned out well. I boiled extra eggs for egg salad, but I've run out of steam, and those will need to wait for another day.

I'm hoping to list an item on eBay, and sell a lawnmower to a neighbor who expressed interest. Other than that, I think that will be pretty much the day. Oh, and reading by the pool for a bit!

Hope you are all having a fabulous Saturday. Have you tried any new recipes that you would recommend?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Frugal Friday

It's hard to spend much money when you're quarantined at home! Here's what we got up to this week.

Saving on things we buy

  • We have a trip booked to Hawaii (the big island) in June. It seems very unlikely we'll be able to go, unless things trend drastically differently with COVID.  But, if we do happen to go, I noticed that our hotel is now $1,000 less for the trip & includes free buffet breakfast + free drinks. I went ahead & made the change, in the event we are able to go. Costco Travel is so easy to work with. I did have to hold for about 20 minutes (expected, given all of the travel changes), but the agent was able to quickly adjust our reservation. It seems more & more likely that our vacation this summer will be at our house on the Oregon coast, which will be lovely, but not what we'd planned. It's been nice to have this Hawaii trip to look forward to, even though it seems extremely unlikely at the moment. 
  • In a similar vein, I price matched all of our flights for the rest of the year, and cancelled/rebooked for the lower prices. It seems unlikely we will be taking those flights, but if we do, we will have saved a few hundred dollars. 

Earning money

  • Continued to list things on eBay. The sales have been slow. But, we are getting a few things out of the house per week.
  • We received our Costco rebate check (we've calculated to see how much we spend, and this is definitely the right choice for us). I'd wanted M to apply the rebate to our most recent shopping trip, but there was a cashier mix up, so we received it all back in cash. I'll tuck it away for a time when we're out & need cash. 

Avoiding spending

  • A neighbor gifted us lemons & oranges from her trees, as a thank you for walking her dog each day. I juiced all of the fruit, and the lemons will serve as salad dressing, reducing our need to buy limes. The orange juice was mixed into an open jug of store purchased orange juice. The kids use the juice as a base for smoothies. We typically don't buy juice, but figure the Vitamin C is good to have right now. 
  • After numerous emails & customer chats, finally got a refund for some clothes we purchased for Sam that didn't fit. I mailed them back over a month ago, and never received a credit. That's now sorted. 
  • I asked another neighbor if we could pick a few oranges from her tree (it is half in our yard) to which she said to pick them all & enjoy. We picked some for her, gave some to a friend, and will juice the rest.
  • Our soccer club refunded part of the spring season fees. The coaches were all paid, which I fully support. We were able to get our money back for a cancelled tournament, field fees which weren't used, etc. In total, it's a bit under $500, as we have two kids in the same club. 

Not frugal for me, but I picked up paper towels & Kleenex for friends who couldn't find them. Left paper towels & oranges out for a contactless pickup for a friend. She has offered me a food drop off soon, which she preps big meals for Ramadan. Yum.

What about you? Any frugal wins to report for the week? 

Monday, April 20, 2020

The days are feeling long

It's going to be a really wild work week. I have one week a month with significantly more meetings (just the way the recurring monthly meetings fall) & we also have a big deliverable this week. The deliverable is something we normally take 6-8 weeks to plan & execute, but in this case, have less than a week. There are..reasons.. so, it's all hands on deck to get things ready on time.

My standard week lately have been about 4 hours/meeting a day, with projects, emails & activities sprinkled between the other hours. I have no days this week with less than 5 hours/meetings, which makes things just generally harder to manage. Oh well, still getting paid. I'm telling myself that this will make the following weeks that much more manageable. :-)

Because it's a crazy day today, I'm going to keep my list of chores to the basics, as I'll use my lunch to do all of my daily stuff (a quick yoga workout, meditate, etc.) I'll also try to do a couple of walks around the block with the kiddos, and then a longer walk this evening.

M is in charge of dinner tonight (steak), which will be a lovely change, as I have APAC calls until later this evening.

That's it from my side. How is your Monday looking? 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

One leisurely day with nothing to do

In my previous (pre quarantine life), I would have been grateful for a single day with nothing on the agenda, and nowhere to be. It changes your mindset when, instead of one day, it's a huge slew of nothing but those days. I'm going to try & treat today like the former - just an unexpected time out in my life - one day with nowhere to be. I'll see how that goes for me.

The weather looks gorgeous, so I'm going to head outside for some yard work this morning.

Of course, I can always find things that need to be done, so here's what I'm hoping to do today:

  1. Work out
  2. Meditate
  3. Take the kids on a few walks
  4. List something for sale on eBay 
  5. Set out porch pickup for a friend (I bought paper towels for her, when I saw them in stock)
  6. Wash the sheets
  7. Make the beds
  8. Chat with my neighbor about picking her oranges
  9. Defrost taco meat
  10. Yard work
  11. Fill the yard waste bin
  12. Review the schedule for next week
  13. Have the boys call my parents
  14. Duolingo
  15. Read my book by the pool
All in all, I'm hoping it will be a productive but relaxing day - as all of the best ones are! What about you? How are you handling the tedium? Any tricks to share?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Menu plan & a Keto friendly recipe recommendation

First up, for Anne, here's the link to the chicken tikka masala we made over the weekend. We didn't have the garam masala or the dried coriander, so skipped that. Otherwise, made it exactly as called for & it was easy & delicious! Next time, I'll increase the chicken & decrease the amount of cream, as we prefer a slightly less saucy recipe.

And, here's our menu plan this week. I'm expecting another crazy work week, so I'll need some easy options.

Friday - we had chicken alfredo (freezer) & the kids had baked chicken & pasta
Saturday - chicken curry & rice
Sunday - tacos & guacamole. If I'm feeling inspired, I'll make tortilla chips for the kids (out of shells)
Monday - carnitas
Tuesday - leftover curry & rice
Wednesday - leftover tacos
Thursday - leftover carnitas
Friday - TBD

What's on your menu for the week? Have you discovered any new recipes over the quarantine?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Frugal Friday

It's been a really busy week at work, so not many posts. We continue to make do as much as possible with what we have on hand. Here are a few frugal wins for the week:

Saving on things we buy:

  • Found a discounted snack (granola bars) & two bags of coleslaw that were $1 at the store, when I went to pick up milk. 
Earning money

  • Found $.02 in the yard while sweeping. I think this fell out of an Easter egg, but I will put it back into the "found change" fund
  • Continued to list items on eBay, and made a few more sales

Avoiding spending

  • Put together a nice Easter afternoon with minimal money. Used a couple of bags of Easter treats purchased earlier in March, recycled Easter bags & plastic eggs, and filled them with the candy & change. 
  • I had leftover heavy cream, so I made a crockpot chicken tikka masala, after I discovered I happened to have everything necessary to make the recipe, and it would use up most of the heavy cream. It was delicious, and Keto friendly. It will be going into the recipe rotation. 
  • We are generally only spending on repairs (more on that) & food. For repairs, our oven element caught on fire, so we've ordered the part & M will be repairing it this weekend. Additionally, we've needed to replace a few items on the kids bikes, as they are getting serious workouts during the quarantine, as biking is an acceptable activity for them... one of the few. 
  • We normally would have spent $300-500 when my parents were in town over spring break. We typically give them money so they can take the boys to lunch, do fun activities outside of the house, and they buy groceries & prep meals. So, while we would have much preferred to have them with us, we are saving the money.
  • The boys won't be doing school track this spring, so we've saved $200 on the fee for that.
  • Our gas budget is incredibly low right now.
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week? 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a fabulous day with your family (either virtually together, or in person).

I went on a seven mile hike in the sunshine yesterday, and it was wonderful, but came back with a tick. M removed it, but it was swollen & unpleasant. I found two more on my clothes! I'm hoping it heals up quickly with no further pain.

We are planning to hide a few plastic eggs (filled with money & treats) in the backyard for the boys, and we also have two small gifts for them to share. It should be a low key & fun afternoon. I'm also trying my hand at hot cross buns, so fingers crossed those turn out.

And, in exciting news, I finally got a video call to work with M's mom! She hasn't seen the boys in YEARS, so this was thrilling all around, and she couldn't stop crying. It was such a nice surprise for my inlaws, as they have been locked down in their house for well over a month now. We're going to make the video calls a regular occurrence, now that we've sorted it out.

Here's what else is on the to do list today:

  1. Mail an eBay sale
  2. Work out
  3. Clean the bathrooms
  4. Vacuum
  5. Clean the kitchen
  6. Meditate
  7. Make crockpot chicken tikka masala for tomorrow's dinner
  8. List another item on eBay
  9. Laundry
  10. Wash the boys duvets
  11. Set out Easter eggs in the yard
  12. Make hot cross buns
  13. Finish tikka masala
  14. Call my parents
  15. Make muffins
That's it on our side. What about you? How are you planning to spend your day?

Friday, April 10, 2020

Menu planning

Menu planning has taken on renewed importance for all of us, as we balance what we have, what we can do without, and minimize trips to the store.

 Breakfasts will include things like: eggs, waffles, protein smoothies, bagels, fruit, etc. We will rely more on frozen fruit as our fresh supplies dwindle. For lunches, the adults typically have leftovers & the kids will have easy to prep options from the fridge, pantry or freezer.

Here's what we're planning on having for dinners this week.

  • Friday - spaghetti bolognese (over cauliflower rice for adults, pasta for kids). This will use up ground beef, cauliflower rice, & a container of tomato sauce discovered in the freezer. I'll fill out with fresh onions, peppers, and carrots. 
  • Saturday - chicken curry over rice. This will use up chicken (freezer), and some additional veggies. 
  • Sunday - I'm hoping to make hot cross buns for Easter. The kids voted on the super traditional Taco dinner. ;-) Planning to make homemade tortilla chips to serve with it. This will use up ground beef from the freezer
  • Monday - leftover bolognese
  • Tuesday - leftover curry
  • Wednesday - leftover tacos
  • Thursday - leftover curry again
  • Friday - cauliflower crust pizza (freezer) + regular pepperoni pizza (freezer)
  • Saturday or Sunday - restock our supplies, dinners TBD

Things we will be running out of soon:

  • Fresh fruit (we only have one banana left)
  • Bagged salad
  • Frozen fruit
  • Milk
  • Cucumber (Nick's favorite food)
My husband gets very anxious when we run low on specific food items (we clearly have enough to eat for another month, but would be substituting almost all top choices), so we shall see how long he can realistically go.

What about you? What's on the menu plan this week?

Frugal Friday

It's hard to spend any money when everything is closed! Here's what we've been up to in frugal news this week.

Saving on things we buy

  • I was able to use a $1 Rite Aid reward for bandages I needed for Sam. He fell of his skateboard & had major road rash in three places. He was a terrible mess, and in a lot of pain for a few days, but has since recovered. We've again talked about reducing risk to stay safe right now! Teen boys are hard to corral!
  • Our car insurance company sent an email that they will be providing an upfront discount, as we are not on the road right now. That will be tremendously helpful. 

Earning money

  • Listed one item on eBay every day. Made three sales so far.
  • Continued to do Microsoft Rewards, and earned a $5 Amazon gift card

Avoiding spending

  • No driving to work, so no wear & tear on the cars, or gas (for one of the two cars)
  • Eating lots out of our fridge, pantry & freezer. Trying to do our absolute best to maximize what we have, and minimize food waste.
  • Traded fresh oranges in our yard for yeast from a coworker. She threw in two apples & two homemade lime truffles. I'd added a bag of Easter chocolate for her kids. Our minds were clearly in the same place. I only got one of the truffles before Sam ate the other, but it was incredible!
  • Worked out at home with free DVDs, hand weights & a mat I've had for years
  • I cancelled a coaching training I was scheduled to do in March. Actually, the program cancelled the March event, and rebooked me in a later one. I decided I'd rather have the money back, and will reschedule time permitting. This will free up quite a bit of money back onto the credit card. 
Helping others
  • Donated to a food bank that is experiencing record high requests
  • Walked our neighbor's dog
  • Mailed masks to my sister & BFF
  • Assisted neighbor with her mailing 

That's it from our side. What about you? How is everyone doing on the frugality front this week?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A quieter day

I had a bunch of meetings today, so it's been a bit quieter on the productivity front. Here's what we're getting done today.

  • Working out (creatively). I was on a listening only call, and spent 30 minutes doing abs, push ups, squats, etc. 
  • Listed an item on eBay
  • Helped Nick with his soccer activity, got some fresh air
  • Journaled
  • Haven't meditated yet, but it's on the list
  • Washed Sam's sheets. He had a skateboarding crash that yielded quite a road rash, and bleeding. Poor guy. He's fine, but it was scary for sure. We reminded both kids (again) about staying safe & taking less risks, because no one can take an unnecessary trip to the hospital right now. 
  • Cleaned the bathrooms. We're bumping up the frequency, as we're all home so much throughout the day.
  • Filled the yard waste bin
  • Found a non-fiction book to read for April
  • Update our menu, based on available food items
  • Go for walks. It's been quiet, but we'll do a longer walk this evening.

For dinner tonight, we'll be having chicken tenders (homemade) + cauliflower rice & salad. 

Hope everyone is having a good Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The sun is back

And, I'm relieved. The kids were all over each other yesterday, and really needed an opportunity to burn off energy outside. We did end up outside for a quick rainy walk, and then a slightly longer walk (the full family) after dinner. Phew.

But today, everything is looking sparkly, post all of that rain, and hopefully it will be a good opportunity for the kids to get some exercise, and for the adults to get some Vitamin D.

Here's what's on the list today. I consider the first five the "positive flywheel" that I'm trying to put into motion each day of the quarantine. Basically, make sure I'm making time for the things that are keeping me mentally & physically healthy, and also take advantage of the non-commute time to make the quarantine have positive benefits, so it feels like less of an overall negative.

  1. Meditate
  2. Journal
  3. Work out. Not sure what today will be. Perhaps a run and 10 minute abs
  4. List 1 item on eBay
  5. A chore around the house or yard (I'm thinking I'll dust the beds/nightstands & clean our bedroom fan)
  6. Work meetings
  7. A couple of work projects
  8. Work in the yard over lunch
  9. Spanish Duolingo
  10. Farsi flashcards with the kids
  11. I've made carnitas for dinner, so need to prep those 
That's it. Do you have any positive daily activities you're trying to build or increase during the time at home? 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Homemade masks

A  neighbor made masks for M + me, and made two bonus masks for me to send to my sister & friend. Such a lovely thing to now have homemade masks. We will be doing our best not to leave the house for the next two weeks, but it's great to have the masks in the event something comes up.

The rain continues, but it looks like today is the last day. Hurrah! It's very noticeable how much the weather is impacting my mood, when combined with the quarantine. Getting out for walks in the sunshine has been part of what's kept me positive, so I'll need creative solutions for rainy days.

As for today, here's my plan for the day:

  1. Journal
  2. Meditate
  3. Yoga
  4. Walks with the kids, even in the rain
  5. Work calls. It's my APAC evening, so dinner will need to be scrappy
  6. Two work projects
  7. List an item on eBay
  8. Mail masks
  9. 1 chore. Haven't decided what to do, but likely clean out under the sink in one of the bathrooms
  10. Make sure the kids do their calls
Dinner tonight will be carnitas. Some will have them in tortillas, or over homemade cheddar bread. I'll likely have mine over a salad. My calories were too high over the weekend, so I'll need to trim back this week.

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Rainy Sunday

I am so glad the drought has ended, and understand we need the rain here in northern California, but... the long weekends of rain combined with the quarantine is a harsh combination. But, we are all healthy, have plenty of supplies, and are still speaking to each other, so I'll be grateful for that. :-)

So far today, I've done a cardio DVD workout with Nick (and, bonus 10 minute ab workout), listed an item on eBay, started a load of laundry, organized our bathroom under sink storage areas & put in two loaves of quick bread (cheddar & double chocolate).

The weather is super gloomy here, & it's putting me in a bit of a funk. Here's what else I'm going to do today:

  • Finish the carnitas (in the crockpot)
  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Finish Nick's sheets & make the bed
  • Laundry
  • Find an Old Navy tracking number for a "lost" return
  • Play at least one game with the kids
  • Take the neighbor's dog for a walk, if it ever stops raining

What about you? How are things for all of you? Hope everyone is staying healthy!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Menu plan Saturday

M was able to go to Costco yesterday, and find most of what we needed. Fresh chicken remains elusive, but we were able to pick up frozen breasts. Not my top favorite, but it will certainly do. Based on what we picked up, and our freezer/fridge/pantry stores, here's what's on the menu for the week:

  • Friday - we had a smorgasboard of leftovers (salmon, leftover takeout, and one small diner had a lingering chicken patty of unknown origin)
  • Saturday - M is making Persian kebabs, rice & yogurt sauce
  • Sunday - I'm making carnitas in the slow cooker
  • Monday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Tuesday - leftover carnitas
  • Wednesday - meatloaf (freezer) + coleslaw
  • Thursday - any leftovers, or chicken alfredo (freezer)

I'm feeling unmotivated today, and need to break out of the funk. Because, sitting around & staring into space certainly won't help. So far, I've sold/packaged an item on eBay, and listed two more. Plus, journaled & paid a bill. Now I just need a plan for the rest of the day:

  • Clean the fridge
  • Go for a run or walk
  • Walk with the kids (& take neighbor's dog for a walk)
  • Work on Farsi flashcards
  • Meditate
  • Menu plan
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Deep clean the kitchen 
  • Laundry
  • Find one bonus organizing/cleaning chore to do. Maybe the medicine cabinets
What about you? How are you planning to spend this at home Saturday?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Frugal Friday

Well, we had a record high grocery spending month in March, so I'm not sure anything qualifies as frugal. But, we're doing the best. Why was our grocery bill so high? 20 meals + snacks that M & I would normally have at the office (breakfast + lunch x2, x M-F) adds up. We also didn't shop around to get great deals & focused on what was available wherever we were at. We stocked up more than normal for sure (no hoarding). And, we added treats to keep things fun around the house during the quarantine.

All that aside, here are the frugal wins for the week.

Saving on things we buy:
  • Picked up takeout (vs using delivery service) to save slightly on the cost
Earning money:
  • I've gone back to Microsoft Rewards in the morning. About 1/2 way to an Amazon gift card.
  • I took some spare time this weekend to list items on eBay, and have already earned ~$80 with three sales. Applied the extra money towards our mortgage. 
Avoiding spending:
  • This is a regular thing, in that we are avoiding anything outside of our core shopping trips. For example, I was out of mayo this weekend while making coleslaw. I subbed Greek yogurt, vs running to the store. This is happening repeatedly, especially on weekends. 
  • I called my broker about an error on their side. I wasn't sure how much it would cost, but they credited back the $6 in cost, which was a small win. 
  • I was supposed to be on a girls trip this weekend. I'm very disappointed not to be there, but I've saved about $250 in costs. 
  • We were supposed to go to Costco yesterday (made it to 8 days without shopping), but they have new hours & were closed early.
  • Continued to use up pantry & freezer ingredients. In fact, I cleaned out our entire garage freezer, wiping it down & organizing the food, so I could better tell what we had on hand. 
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

We've made it to Thursday!

In another long week, we've made it to the downhill side. The weather is beautiful today, so definitely planning to get outside & soak up some of that vitamin D. I'm trying to have my lunch by the pool when the weather is good, just to break up the routine.

Here's what's on my list for today:

  1. Meditate
  2. Journal
  3. A DVD workout
  4. List one item on eBay
  5. Work meetings
  6. Two work projects
  7. Clean one drawer in our console table
  8. Prep dinner ahead
  9. Virtual happy hour (in place of girls trip I was supposed to be at today)
  10. Work on Farsi flashcards
  11. 3 walks with the boys
  12. Dishes
  13. Follow up on Sam's executive function tutoring
  14. Figure out what we're doing for Easter
  15. Fill up another yard waste bucket
That's it on my side. What about all of you? How do you plan to spend your day today?

April goals

I've adapted my goals a bit, to better support our current life situation.

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget & rebuild plan for taxes due
  • Pay down our mortgage to the next micro level. Not a primary focus right now, but still trying to set motivating goals.
  • No clothing, shoes & jewelry purchases for right now.
  • Make $100 in side hustle
  • Keep working through freezer/pantry clean out
2) Family
  • Plan a family dinner night, & a couple of fun spring break activities, while house bound. Welcome ideas!
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening (not counting reading)
  • Have a weekly half hour alone with M, even if alone means outside while the kids are inside, or vice versa
  • Schedule monthly calls with M's family
  • Two hours of practicing with Farsi flashcards
3) Fitness/health
  • Lose 3 lbs 
  • Work out every day in April
  • Track calories, eat five servings of fruit & vegetables. Aim for 1400 calories/day
  • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts
  • Meditate 20 times
4) Personal creative 
  • Stay connected with friends. Do something social at least 2x/month.
  • Volunteer
  • Journal 25 times
  • Adapt a more positive mindset (judge less)
  • Listen more often vs talking & work on not interrupting
  • Reduce swearing
  • Read one non-fiction book
  • Compliment M every day
  • Support the kids with online learning
  • Complete one project /day (taking advantage of WFH situation)

What about you? What goals do you have planned for April? Have you made any changes to support the current situation? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

March Goals Recap

I think it's fair to say that March looked nothing like I expected. That said, I worked hard to flex & adjust to the various changes (first my work moving to WFH, then the kids schools being cancelled, then shelter in place). We're hanging in there, and it's clear that I need to have new routines & systems in order to feel as normal as possible.

To highlight what's currently working for me: meditation, journaling, working out, "talking" with friends (using a video chat app), and really focusing on some of the benefits of WFH (finding a project each day to accomplish).

Here's how I did with my goals for the month.

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget - our grocery bill was wildly blown, as we stocked up, didn't shop around for best prices, and had to pay more for alternatives in many cases. We also went over on dining out (supporting local businesses via takeout).
  • Pay down our mortgage to the next threshhold - barely. By around $30. :-) 
  • No clothing, shoes, or jewelry purchases - bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy (I was ordering clothes for Sam) & I love them. They are perfect for WFH. 
  • I didn't set a side hustle goal, but at the end of the month, had a few eBay sales - made $80.

2) Family
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids - lots of walks, card games, puzzles. 
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening - I've started reading online & had a few COVID news days where I read for quite late into the evening. I'm generally making this happen.
  • Have two dates with M - we had a happy hour on the patio. Dates are on pause right now.
  • Schedule monthly calls with M's family - No, and now is the time to get this done. They are also quarantined & it would be lovely to make this happen.
  • Buy & practice Farsi flashcards - I've purchased them & did this early in the month, before the COVID drama started in earnest.

3) Fitness/health

  • Lose 3 lbs - I lost 1.5 lbs, and given the situation, I'll definitely take it.
  • Run 10 times, half marathon training - I had some lingering knee pain & ran once. My half marathon & girls trip was cancelled, so the motivation dwindled. I did work out every day in March, so was active otherwise.
  • Track calories, eat 5 servings of product/day & aim for 1400 calories/day. - 1542 on the calories & 4.74 on the fruit & veggies
  • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts - 925, 8 & 5. Good, considering my gym is closed, I'm WFH with the kids & getting scrappy to make this happen.
  • Meditate 10 times - 19 times. Crushed it!

4) Personal/creative 
  • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month - had lunch with a friend (pre WFH), & then a virtual happy hour
  • Volunteer - yes, volunteered for a neighborhood shopping program, signed up to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, have been walking elderly neighbor's dog, and increased our charitable contributions tremendously
  • Journal 15 times - 27 times
  • Adapt a more positive mindset (judge less) - doing okay at this. 
  • Listen more often vs talking & work on not interrupting - This has gotten better, mostly because more listening is pretty required when you are all joining remotely
  • Stop/greatly reduce swearing - I blame the pandemic for this one
  • Read one non-fiction book - read a financial non-fiction book that I didn't enjoy at all, but it's done. 
  • Choose & try 3 disruptive experiments
    • Compliment M every day - I'm guessing a 90% success rate
    • Review my calendar & have 10% of my time focused on development of myself or other people.  - Yes, but this has switched to the kids development, as I support them for online learning. 
    • Try to "be the change" & get involved in solving hard problems, vs sitting on the sides complaining - I've tackled this in a few places, but now is not the right time at work to be handling all of these. Many are much better in person.

What about you? How did you do with your March goals? 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Peaceful pruning

I spent much of the weekend pruning an enormous tree in our yard. I describe pruning as peaceful, because it's one  of the only times I'm alone at my house. No one else in my family is anxiously looking for an opportunity to do yard work. :-)

I made meatloaf yesterday (one package of Liptons down, one to go) & coleslaw to go with it. I was out of mayo for the dressing, so subbed Greek yogurt in its place. It wasn't quite as rich, and was a bit tangier, but also healthier. And, everyone ate it, so all was well.

Here's what's on the agenda for today:

  • Work meetings, although it's a pretty light day
  • We're trying a new system with the kids & distance learning, so we'll see how that goes
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Yoga
  • 3 walks around the block
  • Leftovers for dinner (probably pesto chicken casserole over spinach)
  • Both kids have Zoom meetups with their soccer teams
  • And, 2 discrete work projects which I'm hoping to wrap up
  • If time permits, I'd like the kids to each work on their soccer skills (exercise is crucial right now, for all of our mental health) & take the neighbor's dog for a walk
  • I'd like to find at least one more item to list on eBay, as a stretch goal

What about you? Do you have a stretch goal for today?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Freezer & pantry progress - update #3

Happy Sunday! It's been a good opportunity to use all of my freezer & pantry items, so I've been tracking them (progress below).

  • Sushi rice (Sam bought for a school cooking project, so this is the remainder) Used for chicken stir fry
  • Multiple packs of sardines. These are M's, and he bought them when he first started doing Keto, but hasn't eaten many. No one else will eat them for sure, so I need to gently motivate - Done!
  • Several packages of Liptons onion seasoning. My parents bought it when they were here. I don't have any recipes that use this, so will need to come up with something - used up one, which was actually Ranch dressing. So, two packages of Liptons to go. I'm thinking of making a meatloaf tonight with one package. 
  • A huge jar of tahini. I need to make hummus, but will need other ideas, because there's no way we will eat that much hummus
  • A few jars of homemade pesto. I have a chicken recipe that uses pesto, so just need to make it - Gone! In various chicken dishes. 
  • Pine nuts. Not sure what I'll do with these
  • 1/2 a bag of frozen spring rolls. No one really loved them, but they need to be eaten - Done. Served with egg roll in a bowl, which provided a nice dipping sauce for the actual spring rolls.  
  • So, so, so many bags of frozen bananas. I've encouraged M to buy fewer each week, but that has gone unheeded. - Yes! Muffins & many, many smoothies finally finished these off. 
  • Mini pizzas. I'll make these for the kids for an upcoming lunch or dinner. - Woohoo! All 12+ of them have been consumed by small people, including when we needed to unexpectedly feed friends. 
  • Mini naan breads. About 1/3 gone. 
  • A package of gnocchi (meal kit). - gone. 
  • A package of salami & sopressata  - One and a 1/2 gone. Used for homemade pizzas + two happy hours.
  • 1 package of chicken noodle soup - Used up for lunch on Friday. 
  • 1 box of tomato pepper soup - Used last weekend, when no one was feeling very good. 

Other things I didn't even know we had at the time I made this list:
  • 1/2 of a leftover delivery pizza. Discovered in the freezer & quickly turned into a post soccer meal for the kids. 
  • A handful of dried cherries, that had been pushed to the back of the pantry. Used up in pineapple banana muffins. 
  • A huge bag of wings. Used at the boys birthday party
  • Brussel sprouts (freezer). I think my parents bought them & put them in the freezer. I just discovered them. I wasn't impressed with the way I prepared them, but the are out of the freezer!
  • 1/2 a bag of cubed butternut squash - I didn't love the texture, after freezing. But, I roasted it and served it as the base under the chicken pesto dish we had. 
  • the remainder a chicken pesto dish - we liked the flavor, but it had too much liquid during the original making. So, I roasted butternut squash to serve under it & absorb some of the liquid. It worked well. 
  • A box of jello. No idea where it came from, but the kids mixed it up this weekend, and loved it. 
  • The remainder of a package of gluten free berry treats I bought M for skiing on NYE. I baked those at lunch, and the kids ate them before I got off of my conference call  ;)

Here are the current areas of focus this week:
  • Liptons (make a meatloaf)
  • Finish off small tahini in fridge, so I can move onto the giant gar in the pantry
  • Have M wrap up the last package of salami
  • Mozzarella sticks (we have both frozen breaded ones & fresh). Weave a few of these into the menu, somehow.
  • Use up tremendous amounts of heavy cream, and freeze the rest.

I was reasonably productive yesterday:
  • Washed Nick's sheets
  • Did laundry
  • Made a new chicken/pesto dish. It was great, but super rich
  • Listed 3 new items on eBay, and sold another item for $20. Money in, junk out!
  • Figured out how to download books on my laptop, via the library! Win of the day, for sure
  • Made pancake poppers (like muffins) for breakfast. They were "okay". Definitely not a big winner.
  • Organized my sock & underwear drawer, digging out things I won't use. 

For today, here's what I'm planning:
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • A walk or a workout DVD (weather dependent)
  • Make homemade pasta (first time) with Sam
  • Make a meatloaf
  • Yard work
  • Wash the rest of the sheets
  • Vacuum
  • Figure out work schedule for next week
  • Kids plan their conference calls for next week
  • Finish first digital book 

What about you? How are you doing with your pantry/freezer progress?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday happenings + menu planning

I'm kicking off the day by getting our menu together. Menu planning is more important than ever, as we need to make do with what we have, ensure there is no waste, and manage our assets. Here's what we're planning to make.

  • Friday - we had cauliflower crust pizza (with pepperoni added) while the kids had regular pepperoni pizza
  • Saturday - M will make salmon as his core entree, and I'm going to try a chicken pesto casserole (need to use up that last jar of pesto!)
  • Sunday - Sam & I will attempt homemade pasta & meatballs
  • Monday - chicken alfredo bake
  • Tuesday - leftover chicken pesto casserole
  • Wednesday - pasta & meatballs
  • Thursday -  chicken alfredo
  • Friday - finish up remaining leftovers, or come up with something else

I'm also working on being more intentional about lunch planning, so we use up lingering fridge & pantry items.

Here's what else we'll be up to today:

  1. A walk, if it ever stops raining. If not, a workout DVD
  2. Meditate
  3. Journal
  4. Clean out two dresser drawers
  5. Go through my closet
  6. Work in the yard (weather permitting. Not currently looking promising)
  7. Look for more potential eBay items
  8. Vacuum
  9. Bathrooms
  10. Clean the kitchen
  11. Figure out how to use the audiobook system at the library
That's it from my side. We'll be staying home, with no grocery shopping or errands. Trying to reduce risk & flatten the curve!

What about you? What are your plans for today?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Frugal Friday

Still not very frugal in the grand scheme of things, but we are feeling blessed & lucky right now that we are both employed & we are all healthy.

Saving on things we buy:

  • I filled Sam's prescription, and then immediately filled out the form for reimbursement from my health care account. We'll get a small amount of credit card rewards as well. 

Earning money:

  • Can't think of anything. No eBay sales, no found change (not leaving the house), nothing to report. However, we are both still employed, so we'll take that as a win. 

Avoiding spending:

  • We used fallen oranges to juice for smoothies, while we were waiting a week for a grocery delivery.
  • We also used a citrus fruit growing in the corner of our property (not accessible, & a strange fruit) to dress our salads, once we ran out of lemons & limes. 
  • Lots of meal planning, using up what we have on hand, and being creative with our pantry ingredients. 
  • We still can't find chicken anywhere, so I suppose we are avoiding spending on that? ;-) 
Bonus quarantine section - things we've done to help others lately:
  • Donated masks
  • Donated to a local food shelter that was reporting a huge increase in demand, with a large decrease in donations
  • Donated to our corporate COVID response
  • Walking our neighbor's dog, as she is finding it hard to get out too much right now. 
  • Bought a workout streaming pass for two local small businesses that are struggling (yoga studio & personal trainer)
  • Ordered takeout 2x to help support small businesses 
  • Sent fun "shelter in place" survival kits to my sister & best friend. They included chocolate, tea, & a puzzle.

What about you? Tell us about your frugality this week or helping others this week!